The massive aircraft carrier that the Government brought upriver to protect us during the Olympics was open to the public today – for the second and last time whilst on official duties in London.
HMS Ocean is a very impressive grey mass. It squeezed through the Thames Barrier (just) when it arrived back in May (check out the video here) and has been parked up rather fittingly near the Cutty Sark in Greenwich ever since.
The queues looked massive but we were reassured that it was about a half hour wait, including a quick bag search (for liquids?) and then a short boat trip and we would be let loose on board. And it was all free. Nice.
The ship is apparently the sixth one to be called HMS Ocean and has been travelling around the world quite a bit helping out various countries at war and in peace. We were allowed on top and could see the helicopters; and down below on the storage deck where they had laid out a magnificent array of kit and stands to showcase what the Navy and Marines get up to. A very good PR stunt. Made me proud to be a British tax payer. The guys are gals in their slightly ludicrous uniforms were polite and friendly and eager to talk.
What did I learn?
Well, the marines are so cool they even have black rope! The Chefs have secondary jobs as first aiders and they cook 3,600 meals a day when out at sea…. There are 448 berths on the ship and 1200 people can sail on it. And the Lynx helicopter can fold up like a weird transformer toy…